EU Trade Commissioner Pokes Boris Johnson in the Eye


The EU is playing a dangerous and disingenuous game with the UK.

Here we go again.

The EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan tells the world Boris Johnson will cave in. What's that supposed to accomplish?

The EU failed to learn anything from Brexit, any step of the way.

  1. Had the EU given a bone to then Prime Minister David Cameron, the referendum would have gone the other way.
  2. Had the EU not played extreme hardball with Theresa May, the UK would likely be trapped in a customs union.
  3. Now, the EU is poking a stick in Boris Johnson's eye.

EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan says Johnson will Abandon Pledge on Brexit Transition Period.

“In the past, we saw the way the prime minister promised to die in the ditch rather than extend the deadline for Brexit, only for him to do just that,” said the recently appointed EU trade commissioner. “I don’t believe prime minister Johnson will die in the ditch over the timeline for the future relationship either,” Mr Hogan said in an interview with The Irish Times, referring to the need to negotiate the terms of the UK and EU’s future relationship within a transition period.

The former minister described as “very odd” the British government’s decision to include a clause in legislation ruling out an extension of the transition period beyond the end of 2020, suggesting the move was a political “stunt”.

“As things stand the UK wants to leave the single market and customs union. This move still baffles me because the full consequences of that decision are still not understood in the UK. Why trade a Rolls Royce for a second-hand saloon?”

Poke in the Eye

With those comments, Hogan just grabbed a stick and poked into Johnson's eye.

Johnson made a political statement about a Brexit extension when he was not in position to deliver. It's long over. There is no need to bring that up as a taunt.

And let's not equate that with statements he has made since he became Prime Minister in a Blowout Victory and is now in complete control of the UK side.

Who's the Bigger Liar?

The EU said it would never change the political declaration and it would not change the Withdrawal Agreement. In fact it did both.

So , who's the bigger liar?

Arrogant Tones

"Why trade a Rolls Royce for a second-hand saloon?" is pure arrogance.

The EU is not a Rolls Royce. It is a mindless customs unions with masses of idiotic regulations.

Moreover, the organization is totally unwieldy, requiring 100% agreement among 27 nations to get anything done.

Deal Still Possible

Irresponsible tones makes a hard WTO fallback more likely.

However, I still expect a deal.


  • Because it is in everyone's best interest to negotiate one.
  • The EU, especially Germany, will lose more than the UK in the event of no deal.

Straw Man Arguments

One of the things I keep reading is that it is impossible to negotiate a comprehensive agreement in a year.

I agree. But that is a strawman. Nobody pledged to negotiate a comprehensive agreement in that timeframe. The WTO allows for a basic agreement with and long as 10 years to finalize it.

Perhaps there is some small, say 6-month extension to ratify a basic deal. So what?

By the way, the chief negotiator for the EU will once again be Michel Barnier, not Hogan. Thus, it is not Hogan's place to be running his mouth.

Delivering Brexit

As long as Johnson does not give up fishing rights or agree to let the European Court of Justice (ECJ), be the arbiter in disputes, Johnson will have delivered Brexit.

I expect that outcome and was one of the few who did all along.

My friend Pater Tenebrarum at the Acting Man Blog offered this pertinent insight in a comment to my post Labour Slaughtered, Corbyn Refuses to Admit He is the Reason.

Assuming Johnson does get Brexit done (and it seems he will), this will be the first time ever that a popular vote that went against the EU is actually respected (as opposed to "repeated until the result is to the EU's liking"). It is actually quite a monumental event for that reason alone. And I think its importance is still underestimated. The EU now loses one of its biggest net payers. The remaining net payers henceforth will have to shoulder a far bigger financial burden to continue subsidizing the have-nots (and French farmers). I cannot imagine that this will be a friction-free affair. Particularly as the UK is bound to unleash the kind of tax and regulatory competition that is anathema to the socialist high tax "harmonizers" and centralizers running the bureaucratic Moloch in Brussels.

Counterproductive Comments

If Johnson takes offense at idiotic eye-poking maneuvers, especially if Barnier starts making similar statements, it increases the odds of not negotiating even a basic agreement.

If Hogan wants a deal, and he should, then he would be advised to shut his big mouth.

Finally, and to put Hogan's "Rolls Royce" arrogance into proper perspective, please consider Margaret Thatcher's Amazing Prophecy on the EU.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (46)
No. 1-17

I guess the EU will want to extend so we pay in for longer, would that be the case? I think you’re correct Mish, the UK won’t be extending the 2020 date. We’ll be in the “will there, won’t there, be a deal” period for the year anyway. Everyone wants to move forward now.


What´s really coming up now is the "EU-Brexit Great Gold War", the NATO intestinal infight over the EU gold "supposedly" (hehe) still vaulted at the BoE after many decades.

This will involve the weaponization of the BoE´s gold repatriation policy and other EU gold-related issues of whatever gold is still left over at the BoE vault.

The Brits would not want to return the EU gold unless highly favorable Brexit terms are agreed in favor of the UK.

Or quite simply the BoE cannot return such EU gold supposedly kept in custody for the past decades because it has been sold off or compromised.



By the way: Where the hell is Avid Remainer?


With the UK gone, Italy will take their spot as the 3rd largest net contributor to EU budget (almost on par with UK). I am sure they will be happy to pick up the slack :)


The EU has a Green Deal that will make us all rich....


Bureaucrats over the last several decades honestly believe that they are the most important people in the world, akin to when kings and nobles believed that their power came directly from God.


Get this crap over with already.


"If BJ does not agree to customs union or give up fishing rights, it will be Brexit."

Yup. I suspect the first public spat will be about 'alignment.' Boris thus far has proclaimed that the UK is not going for it, whilst the EU has been insisting that this has to be the basic default starting position for any sort of 'free trade' deal. This assumes that UK will agree to EU standards, rules and so on. UK is going to refuse this from the get-go in which case they might actually move rapidly into WTO as the starting point. In any case, from UK point of view, you are right that Brexit means they clarify that they are not under EU jurisdiction for anything - Courts, Customs Union rules, Defense, Immigration and so forth. As of Jan 31st 2020 that's all over.

So if the EU are going to try to get Boris to get back into and under their tent, it will stop right there. He will be the first person they have dealt with like this since up until now they have been needling and finagling a UK still within their clutches. No longer!

So that is why the whole thing could be much quicker than people think. The big stuff is getting out from under their jurisdictional boot. That is what Brexit is and acc. to Boris's recent statements, that will essentially be accomplished on January 31st. If they have to niggle further on specific trade items for the next year or three, so what? Brexit will have already happened, so much so that he won't allow the word to be used in Cabinet any more!!


Questions, not statements. Is there any mileage in the idea that;

a) Macron and BJ have back door deal to exit fast . b) France benefits through more EU seats & weakened German block. c) France and Southern Europe will push for fiscal consolidation. d) LaGarde (placed by Macron) to work on Eurobond. e) France becomes defacto leader of EU. f) Outcome is weaker Euro and Tatget 2 imbalances addressed. g) Germans have to go along - get the shaft as good Europeans.


Signage has very recently changed at Calais.

The signs are to seperate UK sourced goods/lorrys and suggest WTO arrangement expected and NOT any trade deal. It's to sepaerate foodstuffs and otential contaminants arriving from outside the EU and is specifically targeted to UK sources goods as if on WTO.

I think this will be wrapped up way before end of 2020 on WTO. Teasing it out won't result in a satisfactory outcome and the French want it done soon too.


UK can't easily re-orientate the economy whilst negotiating with the EU. Another reason I think this will be over much sooner than people expect. If the Tories want to have a majority at the next election in 5 years they need to waste no time now.

The EU will want the time wasted as it's in their interest. If no sensible progress by mid-year we see what mettle Boris J is made of. Iron or mozzarella?


As Mish says..." the EU is playing a dangerous and disingenuous game with the UK" ... and as we speak sticks are being poked into BoJo´s eye.

This would have seemed UN-believable only weeks ago. Now push is getting to shove, and animosity will pick up speed, fast.

The problem with the EU gold at the BoE is that no independent audit has ever been carried out in order to answer the following key questions:

(a) does the BoE still have the gold bullion that belongs to EU member nation states... or has it been sold off already as many experts insist is the case ?

(b) is the BoE willing to return the EU gold it may still have to legitimate owners ? Who are the legitimate owners ? Would the ECJ decide gold ownership ? On what basis ?

(c) or has the BoE lent out and/or re-hypothecated and/or encumbered such gold bullion with several / many alleged legitmate claimees waiting in line ?

For this "Brexit Gold War" the City, HMG and the BoE would probably act as one and the same, with extreme "golden" cohesion amongst all of these Old Etonian types.

On the other side, we´d have the different EU nation-states (with no political union bind behind them) each claiming partial or total re-patriation of its gold supposedly still vaulted at the BoE.

Of course, the ECB would simultaneosuly also claim it is "their" EU gold.

And the ECJ would also meddle, of course, jointly with the IMF and the BIS. So that promises to be a very interesting mess, doesn´t it ?

But however it unfolds, the "continental gold" now vaulted across the English Channel will most probably be weaponized by the UK during Brexit negotiations.

Imagine the conflict in no uncertain terms (and desperation) related to audit parameters and ownership, gold bar serial numbers claimed by more than one (supposedly legitimate) recipient, gold bar quality and purity, overdue custody costs, transportation and insurance costs, etc.


Brexit is an anchor store leaving the EU mall. One point is never a trend ,but it may be the start of a trend.


Brexit is also a good opportunity to get a recession out of the way and blame the plebs. 52% are prepared to swallow it to get out of the EU. Things will bloom afterwards and Boris has 5 years to sit on it and turn it around like Thatcher did


Mish, You should not be surprised by his comment. Unelected officials who don't have to answer to the public are completely disconnected from what public sentiment actually is. Phil Hogan in his ivory tower seems to think that Boris Johnson isn't actually going to deliver Brexit. What he fails to grasp is that if Boris doesn't deliver Brexit, he will not make it through his 5 year mandate. That's what happens to people who get positions as commissioners in Brussels (where I lived for 8 years). It is very easy to lose touch with the reality on the ground for the public. So don't be suprised.


"It is a mindless customs unions with masses of idiotic regulations."

Some regulations go to far, because that is the only way to get consenus. Still, there were around 2^27 as many regulations without the EU.


On top of the reasons you cite Mish for the whole trading Rolls Royce thing, the weakness of the EU central government makes for a vacuum that is filled by bureaucrats and most especially by the ECB which is the real power in the Eurozone. If the ECB answers to anyone in the EU it is the chancellor of Germany and then only if it feels like doing so would be of mutual benefit. This leaves nobody in charge of vital issues like defense and how to contain an ever more aggressive Russia. Or, what to do about Erdogan who is taking Turkey rogue now that he has come to the conclusion that Turkey cannot ever be a part of the EU. His threats are a danger to the very heart of Europe and no one country has the power or authority to defend against the imminent subversion and attack by Erdogan. Last October Erdogan threatened the EU with the release of millions of refugees. He has not done it yet, but, all you needed to read of that was Erdogan threatened the EU. And there is no central government in the zone that can confront such threats. That can form a solid and universally accepted policy response to threats. Or that can form any real policy at all. Their hyper politically correct courts are a joke. The Court for International Justice has good intentions but makes absolutely every situation worse and makes none better. Were they able to stop Rwandan genocide? No. Syrian use of chemical weapons? No. But, let Trump defend American lives at the Baghdad airport in retaliation for attacks upon US lives and the court condemns US because of some technical and highly subjective rule about retaliation being proportional.

The EU can bluster all it wants to, it is on it's last legs and close to failure. When it does fail all of Europe will see that the whole thing was never more than a massive Ponzi and all Euro holders are going to be screwed.

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